Jobs and courses cut

LIASING with government bodies to address job losses and cuts to Gippsland’s TAFE sector is the direction to take, according to a key education council chair.

The statement by newly-established Gippsland Tertiary Education Council chair Peter Veenker follows Central Gippsland Institute of TAFE’s announcement it would cut more than 30 jobs.

GippsTAFE announced 32 of its employee positions had been made redundant an initial with 11 employees informed of their redundancy last Thursday.

The decision was made after the axing of hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from Victoria’s TAFE sector in the recent State Government budget.

When The Express asked Mr Veenker how the council intended to handle such challenges, he said his advice was for TAFE institutes to “liaise with Skills Victoria and discuss their plans for the immediate future”.

“I encourage providers to further partner with industry and to work closely with higher education institutions to establish joint ventures and good pathways,” Mr Veenker said.

“We’re moving towards a more market driven system… and institutions will be working through that.”

GippsTAFE also announced concession card holders would no longer have access to concessions for diploma and advanced diploma courses as of July this year, with some full fee courses to be priced at $9000.

“We believe we can help most students enrolled in programs to be discontinued, finish their qualifications,” GippsTAFE general manager teaching and learning Carol Elliot said.

“For those who will not be able to complete their course, we will be referring them to other institutions.”

These comments were made after Ms Elliot informed The Express its creative arts, business administrative and front house hospitality courses would be discontinued as of January.

She said the institute had done “everything we can to look after staff”, adding GippsTAFE’s decision following the budget cuts would have a “significant” impact on students and Gippsland industry.

“School leavers will be restricted with the number of programs offered especially diplomas and advanced diplomas,” she said.

“These students who cannot get into university will not be able to afford to go to the city, which means a shortage of skills in the region”.

Ms Elliot disagreed with the government’s decision to instead increase funding to the apprenticeship sector, adding “it doesn’t necessarily mean that more people here will become apprentices; it’s false logic”.

“Apprentices need employers and that’s what the government has forgotten; we don’t have employers to take on an increase in the number of apprentices,” Ms Elliot said.

She said while she could not “guarantee (GippsTAFE) campuses would not be affected into the future, the closure of campuses was an “eventuality”.